ST. LOUIS • A man was captured on a cellphone video running up to riders participating in the 12th annual World Naked Bike Ride in St. Louis on Saturday and firing a paintball gun.
The World Naked Bike Ride typically draws a crowd, plenty of stares and a good deal of cheers as hundreds of nude or partially nude cyclists roll through central and south St. Louis. This is the first year that someone has attempted to disrupt the ride this way, organizer Andrea Hitsman said.
"We've never had any issues like this," Hitsman said. "Nobody could really make out was he was saying, but he did seem to be angry."
The man who captured the incident on his cellphone camera is south city resident Brian Krazer, who was jogging near Tower Grove Park and stopped to film the spectacle of the ride.
"I just happened to be right there," Krazer said. "He shot the kid right in front of me three or four times and then pointed the gun right at me, (and) I'm like, 'Whoa, no, I'm not even a part of this.' Then he went out into the street. It was pretty scary."
Fortunately, Krazer said, it appeared as though the man's gun lost air pressure not long after he started shooting.
Hitsman said the Naked Bike Ride celebrates several themes, from protesting "big oil" to creating awareness of cyclists sharing the road with cars to embracing body positivity and acceptance. She said the organizers work with the city and police to make the ride safe.
"A lot of people who are not regular cyclists participate, so we try to remind them to please wear helmets (and) take it easy and use the resources we provide," Hitsman said. "We do provide medics and there's a bus at the end of the route. ... This is a safe and happy event, but people have to be smart about riding in the city."
Hitsman said despite the stark sights along the event route, organizers have received few complaints.
"Generally the ride is so positive," Hitsman said. "Thousands of people line the streets to watch it go by."